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When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How All of Us Can Help Veterans Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 4, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

It's a grim irony: too many American soldiers return from duty and fall into homelessness, addiction, and thoughts of suicide, yet their crazy behavior might just be the sanest response possible to the horrors of war. What's really crazy, says Harvard psychologist Caplan, is the belief that only a psychologist or psychiatrist can help these suffering souls. Caplan (The Myth of Women's Masochism) delivers a compelling argument that society has "psychiatrized" these vets' normal response to the horrors of war, with the result that many are not receiving effective care. Caplan depicts a military bureaucracy that sweeps vets into the overarching category of the mentally ill; she cites the case of one war-weary vet who became "more depressed about dealing with the than anything that happened in Iraq." Helping, Caplan says, is as simple—and as difficult—as not turning away when vets speak of their experiences, but rather listening attentively and nonjudgmentally. Some readers may be impatient with Caplan's attacks on a "psychiatrized" society or her belief that listening to veterans will somehow bring an end to war, but she makes an important and welcome call for average citizens to take responsibility for our veterans. (Apr.)
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"Caplan ( The Myth of Women's Masochism) delivers a compelling argument that society has 'psychiatrized' these vets' normal response to the horrors of war, with the result that many are not receiving effective care...she makes an important and welcome call for average citizens to take responsibility for our veterans." Publishers Weekly

"Over the past 30 years, Bynum has published an initially contentious series of books that have illuminated many aspects of the oddness of the medieval world... This time she focuses on Christians' intense devotion to objects that they believed both signaled and embodied God's essence and glory."

- Rae Francoeur, Journal Standard

"Caplan peels away the layers of myth, denial, and cliché we've used to shield ourselves from our veterans' unmet needs and our unpaid debt to them. Veterans' own stories put a human face on this book's careful research and thoughtful analysis. This book is a must-read not just for those who care about our veterans but for anyone who has benefited from their sacrifices, which is to say all of us." Kenneth S. Pope , psychologist, ABPP, and co-author, Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling

"Finally we have an all-encompassing, meticulously researched, brilliantly thought-out, and marvelously written book about the effects of war on humans -- and how all of us can help our veterans heal. Dr. Caplan cuts through the smoke of the institutional lies to the true nature of the emotional injuries sustained by these poor souls and offers a detailed and sensible path to healing. This brave and astonishing book stands as the classic, and the standard, for understanding the atrocities of war." Samuel Shem , author of The Spirit of the Place and The House of God

"I am truly amazed by Caplan's grasp of not only the psyche of the combat veteran but of the human heart and soul as a whole. There is no prosthesis for the amputated spirit, but Caplan certainly comes close to discovering just that through her extraordinary insight. Brilliant!" Michelle Wilmot , Women's Outreach Coordinator for Vets4Vets

"If we, as citizens, want to do right by the young men and women who serve in our military and fight our wars, we can start by reading this profound and moving book. By the book's end, you will be certain of one 'therapeutic' truth: A society that sends its young off to war needs to be ready to hear their stories when they return and know that 'there is healing power in not only listening, but also in remembering what the speaker says.'" Robert Whitaker , author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America

"Paula Caplan's book is powerfully informative and creates an image of the importance of listening to our war veterans and the stories they have to share. This book provides an opportunity for their message to support life-enhancing and healing experiences." David Collier , licensed psychologist/team leader, Salem (OR) Vet Center

"Paula Caplan's important book is profoundly empathetic to the psychological needs of our soldiers. She is especially attuned to those needs in a political culture that shifts the burden of its pathology onto its soldiers. Dr. Caplan teaches that the most salutary treatment for both the culture and the soldiers is the necessary exposure of the truth of their experience. Continued denial deepens the trauma and enables its repetition." Robert Shetterly , artist and author of Americans Who Tell the Truth

"Rather than dealing with soldiers' post war pain through denial or the distancing, detachment, diagnosis, drugs, and dis-ease of professionals, Caplan advocates that we all contribute by listening when soldiers tell their stories, and she presents a clear and convincing case that we should not recoil from or deny the horrors of war. Refusing to recognize the experiences of soldiers contributes to the continuation of both war and the debilitating impact of war on returning warriors. Caplan employs prose, poetry, literature, logic, and empirical data to convince us of our power to contribute to a community that connects with and socially supports returning veterans. It is important for all of us, laypersons and professionals, to hear what Caplan has to say and to listen to the stories that veterans have to tell." Maureen C. McHugh , Professor of Psychology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

"Some of the most tragic and lasting consequences of the U.S. military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq only begin after our troops return home to resume their lives. They bring back with them deeply-disturbing experiences and memories largely unknown and often unrecognized by family and community -- turning these soldiers into outcasts even when greeted as heroes. Paula Caplan's timely new book illuminates the inadequacies of current societal and mental health system responses, and explores promising alternatives for confronting the stigma and isolation experienced by so many of our combat veterans." Roy J. Eidelson , Past President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility; President, Eidelson Consulting

"The suffering of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, their families, and those whose lives they affect is likely to be the greatest mental health tragedy of at least the next decade. Dr. Caplan's passionate, eminently readable book makes a compelling case that this is about human pain, not mental illness. Dr. Caplan's critically reasoned review of the multiple dimensions of this crisis is both a call to action and a guidebook for how we can all do our part (still to be done for Vietnam vets) to welcome our American heroes home." Paul Block , Director, Psychological Centers, Providence, RI

"This is a work of profound and astonishing humanity. A distinguished champion of public health, Paula Caplan shows that emotional trauma is often the normal and healthy response of soldiers to the brutalities of warfare. So what we need is not a narrow redefinition of the soldier's experience as a medical 'syndrome' but rather an honest social healing process that treats the soldier with dignity and respect -- and as a harbinger of hope for all of society." Jamin Raskin , Professor of Law, American University, and Maryland State Senator


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (March 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262015544
  • ASIN: B008SMN93M
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,127,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book will probably bring a bit of reality and remembrance to any soldier and even their families. The military's history of suck it up and get over it, has been the order of the day. Boot camps rid the soldier of individuality and train them to be a unified unit following orders immediately and without question. What has never been addressed well are the ramifications of what is left in a soldier's head after battle.

Paula Caplan has addressed this problem in this book, although much of the writing and ideas are repeated throughout...what a soldier needs is understanding and the chance to talk and vent without the label of being mentally unstable and without the automatic use of drugs. It is also true that when soldiers even went to counseling with a chaplain they had a stigma surrounding them.
Granted this is not always as simple as it sounds, no one unless they have been in battle can even imagine the whole reality. This seems to be especially true in the present conflicts where soldiers face multiple deployments, fighting in conflicts without rules and against many times unidentifiable foes.

Although many of the `arguments' presented here are simplistic and repetitive, "we participate in concealing the true consequences of war...is to risk being considered unpatriotic"; soldiers are automatically labeled mentally unstable and drugged when all it would take would be a kind understanding person to talk through their troubles. There is a truth here, that throughout the years... what has healed is having someone who has the patience to listen when the vet is ready to talk.

This is a book that civilians and those who know and have contact with vets might gain some insightful knowledge from.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paula Caplan is a smart and sensitive clinician and writer who takes a strong, controversial position about helping returning veterans. She argues that lay people are as good or better than mental health professionals in dealing with with ravages of war upon the psyche. As one of those professionals, I mostly agree with her. While the Dept. of Defense and the Veterans Administration busily hire more therapists, the soldier suicide rate goes up. It may be difficult for the DoD and the VA to consider that training for war is itself damaging. Humans, like other social animals, are instinctively inhibited from killing face-to-face. Once the killer genie is released it's hard to put it back (only 2%, uninhibited to begin with, are not affected). For clarification see On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
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Dr. Paula Caplan's impassioned plea on behalf of active duty soldiers, veterans, and their families moves beyond its exceptional critical analysis of the abysmal VA and other military mental health 'systems' to deliver paradigm-shifting insights. As citizens, many of us may vaguely recognize a duty to care for returning soldiers but fail to realize the extent to which we've abrogated that responsibility. Well, we are heading for trouble and we've earned it. The current overburdened, dysfunctional mental health system is now our stand-in, pathologizing the soldier and veteran, implicating and sequestering him or her from the rest of us, and further dehumanizing and poisoning with a cornucopia of powerful and unproven medications. All this so that the rest of us can remain entranced and ignorant as to what our consuming and political choices imply. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have been prosecuted at enormous human cost. We've built complex bureaucracies out of the brick and mortar of psychiatric shibboleth so as to avoid listening to those who've been put front and center in the carnage. Throughout her analysis, Dr. Caplan's allegiance is to restoring respect for the truth of the returning soldier's experiences and needs, and to challenge the brittleness of our complicity and denial so that the rest of us might do the same.
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